Like most art lovers, I bet you've got a story about a performance, or book, or painting that touched you so deeply you can still remember the experience. For me, it was my first Broadway show in fifth grade. Gypsy Rose Lee and her infamous stage mother had me in thrall. That ten-year-old left the theater with cheeks aching from a grin that refused to leave her face. I must have listened to the cast album until I wore the needle down on the record player. I was hooked!
Artists and their work provide us with so many inspiring memories. But who inspires the artists? This is where the Obie Award-winning Secret City comes in. These quarterly theatrical events thrill creators and supporters of the arts alike. Each program revolves around a central theme such as Stardust, Memory, or Skin. A live band and chorus set the mood for a high-spirited afternoon.
Creative director Chris Wells--Secret City's Wizard of Oz--searches for just the right artists to highlight the concept. Previous entertainers have included powerhouse singer and BRIC Media Arts fellow, Helga Davis, and American Ballet Theater's Zheng-Jing Fang performing the Dying Swan.
Meanwhile, co-founder Bobby Lucy curates the visual components exhibited on the day seeking out local artists such as photographer, Wyatt Gallery, and painter, Boris Torres. Chris and Bobby guide a lively discussion during the event where the audience enjoys a rare opportunity to ask the artist questions.
Community building exercises are common such as an audience-generated poem about shadows. One Sunday attendees may discover a cellist, a contortionist, and a poet, on another, a reading from a debut novelist, or a performance by a theater troupe. During the food offering, another communal experience, the audience simultaneously eats a treat. Afterward, thoughts are shared about how the snack relates to the theme. The final act of alchemy binding these pieces together is a story expertly crafted and performed by Wells.
Part high-end variety show, part mystical experience, Secret City gatherings sow the seeds for the next generation of creators. As a patron of the arts, we invite you to get in on the ground floor of artistic invention. For every Prima Ballerina, Tony Award winning actor, and National Medal of Arts recipient was once just an anonymous artist, hoping for success, and hungering for community. Your contributions help Secret City continue to provide nourishing performances for artists and art believers.
These are challenging times. Now more than ever the arts sustain us. They lift our spirits and challenge the status quo. They help us identify strands of common humanity. Please give generously knowing that your Secret City contributions support the community who are the building blocks of our creative institutions.
I do hope you'll also come experience a Secret City performance for yourself. And when you leave the theater with cheeks aching from a grin that refuses to leave your face, you'll understand--just like that ten-year-old--why art + community = joy.
"An on-going performance ritual that combines art, food, music, storytelling, meditation, singing, performance and community interaction in a joyful event that celebrates the creative spirit."